Starting a business is not a straight line. It’s a learning process that will, among other things, test your ability to accept and overcome obstacles.
As a new entrepreneur, you’ve got to remember that you are starting something new – doing something for, perhaps, the very first time.
At the beginning, you might struggle. And, at some point, you might fail to meet the incredibly high bar you’ve set for yourself.
It’s not you.
It’s just the nature of this process. Along the way, you’re going to meet obstacles.
THE LEARNING PROCESS
As part of this process, sometimes you might:
- Miss your goals
- Feel overwhelmed
- Feel so tired you want to quit
- Get distracted or lose focus
- Avoid something that scares you
- Forget to recharge your batteries
- Resist change
- Feel indecisive or stuck
- Make mistakes
- Feel frustrated that you’re not further along
Again, these experiences are a normal part of the learning process.
– But, you’re ambitious. You’ve got dreams. You’re capable of success.
Yes, and you’re also human. You’re not perfect (perfection is an illusion). You’re new at this, so cut yourself some slack as you learn how this all works.
I say that from a place of experience (and as a recovering perfectionist).
Fear and doubt creep in. You start to question your gut. And, that little voice in your head that was once bullish about the future starts to shrink. It happens. And, it’s ok.
Steve Jobs once said: “Sometimes life’s going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.”
In other words, accept that you’ll run into things – that obstacles will occasionally block your path.
And, if you really want to bring your idea to life, it’s up to you to push forward with creativity and heart.
KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT
You’ve probably seen this diagram before about what “success looks like.”
On the left, you see a straight line. Quick and easy, right? And, on the right side, you see a squiggly mess of a line that loops back and forth – almost returning to the beginning at points – until, eventually it reaches the end.
Well, that line on the right?
That’s what starting and growing a business looks like, too – it can feel messy.
It zigs and zags.
It starts and stops.
And, it can feel frustrating even for the most seasoned business owners.
Again, it’s not you.
It’s just the nature of bringing an idea to life.
– But, starting a business is a time of possibility, experimentation, imagination, and showing the world what you can do, right?
Yes, that’s all true.
But, without the proper navigation techniques, it can also feel slow, frustrating, and full of traps and distractions, leaving new entrepreneurs to question their self-worth and to wonder why they started in the first place.
You’ve got to go into it knowing that it’s also a challenge – that you’ll repeatedly have to accept and overcome obstacles.
In that sense, mental preparation is critical to your ability to successfully tackle those obstacles and avoid – or at least minimize – feelings of overwhelm, burnout, and frustration.
If you’re stepping onto the path of entrepreneurship, you need to be aware of your thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes – because they’ll impact how you run your business and how you navigate the obstacles you encounter on that path.
Fortunately, there are several learnable skills that you can build in order to mentally prepare for that journey, including: acceptance, self-awareness, growth mindset, perseverance, and resilience.
When joined together, these skills will strengthen your ability to accept and overcome the obstacles in your path.
Accept that you will struggle. It’s a normal part of any learning process. It’s also when we learn and grow the most. So, when you encounter an obstacle, think of it as being offered an opportunity to learn, grow, and strengthen your business, then receive its gifts openly.
Self-aware entrepreneurs are more easily able to adapt their businesses to change – because they’re first willing to change themselves. It takes curiosity and a willingness to engage in ongoing reflection: What do you notice about how you’re perceiving these obstacles? What are you avoiding? Question your responses and dig into the stories you’re telling yourself.
To overcome an obstacle, you’ve got to believe it’s possible and that you’re capable of doing it. So, how do you perceive yourself and your abilities? Do you believe, for example, that you can learn that new, hard thing? How do you typically deal with the setbacks you encounter? Your answers to these questions inform how you intuitively see and respond to the world around you.
As you encounter obstacles and navigate the ambiguity of your startup journey, you’ve got to push through to get things done even when it’s hard. Hold firm in doing something despite the difficulty or the delay in achieving success. Read that sentence again, with an emphasis on the word: delay. It takes time. And, with more time, comes the potential for more obstacles.
I like this definition: the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. By tackling obstacles and breaking through to the other side, you’ll have earned some hard fought skills, so you’ll have every right to be exhausted. But, you’ll need strategies to bounce back quickly because, as we’ve explored, the work of overcoming obstacles is never really done. Instead, the work just evolves, revealing new obstacles.
I’ll explore each of these skills in depth with future blog posts.
ACCEPT AND OVERCOME OBSTACLES
When you’re in the middle of it, zigging and zagging back and forth, starting something new can feel stressful. In fact, that stress – and the added pressure you’re putting on yourself to have it all figure it all out – can limit your vision and stifle your ability to solve problems creatively.
From time to time, in order to accept and overcome an obstacle, you might need to take a deep breath and remember: “It’s supposed to feel this way. You’re in the zig-zag. This is a learning process.”
Reframe your obstacle in its proper context and you can take away its power. Now, it’s just one more thing you get to do to learn and grow.
Stay tuned for more, right here on the 321 Liftoff blog.
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